While the debate has been back and forth on the right age to desex kittens, a new study has found that desexing within three months could reduce the number of cats euthanased across Australia.
Researchers also found that desexing could be safely performed before kittens reached three months of age. Though the operation is usually performed at around the six-month mark, kittens become fertile closer to three months.
Some shelters and vets are already desexing kittens as early as two months old. Associate Professor of feline medicine at the University of Sydney, Vanessa Barrs, told the ABC that it was still common for vets to wait six months to desex kittens. However, Professor Barrs and her researchers followed 300 operations and found that desexing prior to 12 weeks no longer increased the risk of complications.
“Traditionally there were risks associated with doing surgery and anaesthesia in young animals but technology and expertise has changed over the years,” she said. Professor Barrs is now working with the the Cat Protection Society to reduce numbers of euthanased cats Australia wide. Currently shelters take in 100,000 cats per annum—most of which are euthanased.
CEO of the Cat Protection Society of New South Wales, Kristina Vesk, hopes to minimise the large numbers of unwanted cats and kittens being put down. “It’s really important to stop that cycle of breeding right up front,” said Vesk. “That’s why early age desexing is so important and I think that responsible pet owners and vets can show the way and lead the way in what this means and we can actually start to tackle the problem because it’s a tragedy that all these beautiful healthy cats and kittens are being euthanased.”